The Soul Cafe is back after a brief summer vacation break. I'm sorry if you missed the regular blog postings, but I promise to get back into the swing of things from here on. Today I received some news through the church that a local chaplain has been referring some of her seriously ill clients to the Soul Cafe for comfort. This has both humbled me and inspired me to go back to writing and share something about the gospel with you today, and for many days to come, God willing.
Today is an appropriate day then, because in Luke's story for today, we hear one of the great healing stories of Jesus' ministry - the healing of a woman who had been hunched over for eighteen years. The beginning verse tells us that Jesus was teaching in the synagogues, and as he often does, uses a healing opportunity to teach his lesson.
The first lesson is pretty obvious...and provocative. Jesus is doing this healing on the Sabbath Day. He knows what reactions he will receive from the leaders of the synagogue. They rail against Jesus for doing the work of healing on the sacred Sabbath, and Jesus rebukes them as hypocrites, who would take care of their livestock ahead of bringing love and comfort to this woman who must live in excruciating pain and shame for her condition. Jesus teaches that love and compassion for another person is the rule that all other rules must bow to. And that would be enough of a lesson for all of us.
But there is a more subtle message contained in the text this week, for what the crippled woman represents for us symbolically. People of God - can you see yourselves in this story, as the crippled woman? Now, you might not have a debilitating physical condition, but the picture of a person stooped over in pain might describe how many of us go through life at times. Our inner struggles with tragedy, loss, grief and pain can leave us turned in on ourselves, not wanting to even be noticed by others. Martin Luther used a term "incurvatus in se" which is Latin for "turned in on oneself", to describe the effect of sin on our lives. The crippled woman is a picture of someone who is suffering so much that she is completely turned in on herself, perhaps not even knowing she needs healing. But that is where Jesus comes in.
Luke tells us that Jesus paid attention to this woman and called for her. Immediately, upon meeting Jesus, she is able to stand straight up for the first time in a generation. This is what Jesus does for all of us as well. Jesus notices us when we are in pain, when we are totally curled in on ourselves, when we are physically and spiritually crippled, and unable to stand on our own. In those moments, Jesus calls to us, and because we know we are loved and fed, like the old woman, we can stand up for Jesus, and turn away from our pain, living lives open to the gospel, open to others, free to love and free to give of ourselves.
How will you stand up for Jesus this week?
Welcome to The Soul Cafe, a place for gathering, for learning and for conversation.
We invite you to join us as we study and discuss how God reveals himself to us in the Bible and in our lives.
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.